Bachelor of Engineering, 4th year
Bachelor of Engineering, 4th year

Academic Experience

The Technical University of Munich was recognised by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings as the 9th best University for Computer Science, so I chose to study primarily Informatics based subjects including:
-Machine Learning (8 ECTS)
-Advanced Computer Networking (5 ECTS)
-Network Security (5 ECTS)
-Challenges in Energy Markets (3 ECTS)
-German as a Foreign Language (8 ECTS)

A major difference in the academic system is that TUM allows for early oral exams which are less maths-intensive, however you need to make sure you have a very good understanding of all concepts in the course. A challenge I struggled with were 100% final exams, so it was hard to stay motivated to study throughout the semester. However, by scheduling the bulk of my travelling for the first half of semester I was able to focus wholly on study in the second half. Finally, the majority of masters courses are taught in English which I was incredibly thankful for!

Personal Experience

Everywhere in Europe is so close and very well connected, so I was able to do a lot of travelling during my time there. My favourite places to visit were Barcelona, St. Petersburg and Prague. They were all incredibly unique experiences with very distinct cultural identities. Also during my time in Munich, I studied German with some international friends and this really helped us to gain more confidence in immersing ourselves in the city’s events and activities. However, it is a bit tricky to gain fluency in German since most University students speak fluent English.

Accommodation

A word of warning, Munich was experiencing a housing crisis when I was there so it was very difficult to find guaranteed accommodation for the whole semester on my own, even whilst being in Munich. However, all UQ students (apart from those studying architecture) have guaranteed accommodation through a program called the ‘Servicepaket’, organised by the Student Union. I personally lived off campus in a student village, in a self-contained studio apartment. The apartment was furnished with a bed, table, chair, shelving, fridge, kitchenette (stove & sink) and bathroom. The rooms are also allocated based on which campus you are expected to attend most frequently, so I was very happy to be situated right in between my Uni campus (Garching) and the city centre (Marienplatz).

Budget

The cost of living in Munich is quite similar to that in Australia, however it is possible to live more cheaply if you are able to find accommodation within a student village. The monthly cost of rent in a student village is about $420, whereas if renting privately the monthly cost of a studio apartment is always more expensive and can reach as high as $1200. So if you plan to rent privately, I would highly recommend living in a share house.

When it comes to groceries, if you shop at discount supermarkets (eg. Aldi) prices are a lot cheaper than Australian supermarkets, however the other supermarkets (eg. Edeka) are more similar to what is offered at Coles and Woolworths. Munich has about 5 shopping centres, however there are no stores offering discount homewares/stationery/clothes etc. like Target or Kmart. So I would recommend trying to pick up secondhand cookware and cutlery/crockery as those items can get expensive very quickly. Also be aware that no shops are open on Sundays!

The public transport system in Munich is amazing, the U-bahn (subway) and S-bahn (overground trains) run every 5 minutes during peak hour and it is convenient to reach any point in Munich only via the trains. The main transport company also offers the IsarCard Semesterticket to students, which allows unlimited use of the entire transport network for the semester for only $270, so I highly recommend using this! Overall I would budget around $17 000 for all expenses and a few weeks of travelling for 5-6 months.

Professional Development & Employability

A major skill I have developed during my exchange is learning to adapt to significant change from all directions. It is a challenge to budget in a foreign currency, read official letters, organise banking, study according to a different education system, learn the public transport system, and make new friends all in a completely different country with a different language. Solving all these problems helped me to gain more confidence and responsibility in living on my own, and dealing with a wide range of unfamiliar people.

Highlights

The highlight of my experience was definitely a Baltic Sea cruise which travelled to Tallinn, St. Petersburg, Helsinki and Stockholm. Experiencing the culture of Eastern Europe was fascinating, and it was a fantastic opportunity to visit Russia without a visa. I was so thrilled to be able to visit the Hermitage, the breathtaking exterior and interior of the Church on the Spilled Blood, the massive St Isaac’s Cathedral, and the beautiful jewellery of the Faberge Museum.

Top Tips

I highly recommend going on exchange! There are so many new experiences you’ll discover and you’ll find that Australia is quite an isolated country. Everywhere in Europe is so closely connected so if you’re interested in travel, Germany is such a great base to reach so many different countries and cultures. If you’ve decided to go on exchange, I would definitely advise you to participate in as many international student events as you can, since you meet so many other people in the exact same position as you, and some of the activities (eg. ski trips) are really fun!

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